30 September 2012
Sam Billen - "Places"
If you live in Lawrence Ks like myself, you probably know who Sam Billen is, so I won't really go to far into details. He's been recording records going all the way back to 2004, and this new one is his 7th studio LP, Places. And unlike his last album Headphones And Cellphones, which I liked a lot, Places is a much more raw, emotional and densely instrumented record. The first track "Saltine" has some great vocals from Sam and a TON of various instrumentation: multiple acoustic and electric guitar, a bunch of popping in synthesizers, piano, drums and maybe even some bass. The track is very emotive and very pretty, and it doesn't quite let itself get lost in it's mass of instrumentation. The LP continues on with "An Interference", which I really like because it has a very odd sort of Christmas feel to it; bells, large piano, harmonious vocals, and some guitar. The title track "Places" has a very pretty post-rock vibe to it with these shimmering guitars, drums and maybe some violins, and eventually some very nice lyricism from Sam. "Choices" continues that post rock style I talked about up there, with a very pretty and overshadowing piano that really takes over every single thing about the track. "A Light Went On" is really only the sample of Sam's previous LP, with some casual drum machines taking the back seat as Sam tells a story of his childhood that I found incredibly raw and well told and it sounded especially great on top of the instrumentation. "Come Clean" is definitely my favorite track, with just soaring and beautiful instrumentation and in the back of my head I'm kind of thinking of maybe the epic feel of Swans' new record. It just feels epic and the vocals and lyrics in the song are great. The album ends on the right note with "Secrets Of The Universe", a very pretty post-rock tune. While the song is short at just 3min and 10sec, the song definitely gets its point across.
This record is definitely a very solid and enjoyable listen that I'm glad got passed to me. Sam continues to make music that I continue to find awesome and great, and I'm excited to see what his next record will sound like. The album is streaming and available for your buying pleasures right up above. I'd recommend it.